Apparently This Is Grim Economic Statistics Week

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More Poverty! More Uninsured! More Stagnation! Plagues! Locusts! OK, I think I got carried away there for a moment. But yikes.

Among the latest grim statistical findings that made news this week:

Highest poverty rate in 15 years. The Census Bureau announced that the official poverty rate for 2009 was 14.3%, up from 13.2% in 2008, and the highest it’s been measured since 1994. In fact, the number of Americans living in poverty (43.6 million) is the largest ever during the 51 years that such stats have been published. And why are a record number of Americans living in poverty? Stephen Gandel tries to explain.

Over 50 million Americans are without health insurance. Again, the Census Bureau (courtesy of USA Today) reported that the number of Americans without health insurance rose to 50.7 million in 2009. About a year ago, among the most disturbing health care statistics was the generally accepted belief that roughly 45 million Americans had no insurance.

Household income stagnates. The WSJ’s take on the Census data reveals that the inflation-adjusted income for the median U.S. household fell 4.8% from 2000 to 2009, from a little over $52K to a little under $50K.

Number of families forced into homeless shelters on the rise. It was recently reported that between 2007 and 2009, the number of families in homeless shelters rose from 131,000 to 170,000.

50% chance you live in a home accepting government handouts. Among other economic news that’s good and bad in its own ways, the WSJ reported that nearly half of all Americans live in a household where someone receives government benefits such as food stamps and subsidized housing.

Student loan default rates still rising. As reported earlier this week, in the 2008 fiscal year (the most recent period for which data is available), the student loan default rate was measured at 7% — up from 6.7 the year before and 5.2% the year before that. Given the state of the economy and the poor job market for recent grads, default rates are expected to continue on their upward trajectory.